When it comes to a legal case, the media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You might want to use the media as leverage to shame a bullying employer. Or, on the flip side, your grievor might be a wronged individual who doesn’t come across quite as you would like. When the media sniffs something interesting in a case, they can be hard to put off. So what are the rules around when the media can attend an arbitration?
Setting the ground rules is an often overlooked part of the negotiation process. This applies to both the relationship with the other side and within your own negotiation team. In future blogs we will consider other rules to be defined in the pre-bargaining phase.
In the past, referral deadlines have not been set in stone, and parties have allowed grievances to be referred beyond the deadlines set out in the Collective Agreement. Given the decisions of the Ontario Divisional Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal in Greater Essex County District School Board v. United Association of Journeymen, Local 552, Unions should be mindful of the grievance and grievance referral timelines, as extensions may not be given as easily as in the past.
Whether you think you might go the beach, camping, or even just enjoy some relaxing time in your own backyard, you want to double check that you are following any workplace policies or clauses in your collective agreement. These may place restrictions on when you can take your vacation, and what can be done with it if you don’t take it.
The recent Supreme Court of Canada case, United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 503 v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp., on appeal from the Court of Appeal for Quebec, deals with the limit of an employer’s rights during the certification process. This decision may give employers cause to think twice before deciding to close their doors in order to avoid unionization in Canada.
Most human rights tribunals have concluded that the duty to accommodate has both a procedural and a substantive element. The Federal Court of Appeal rejected that conclusion in a recent decision, stating instead that the appropriateness of a standard must be assessed as a matter of substance and not procedure.
For many years, labour arbitrators have interpreted management rights clauses in a purposive rather than a literal manner. This means that most arbitrators have interpreted collective agreements as implicitly authorizing only ‘reasonable’ management action. As one aspect of this approach, arbitrators long ago devised the KVP test to determine when unilateral employer rules or policies are enforceable by discipline. The KVP test is not new; but the Supreme Court has breathed new life into it. Enterprising unions will look for opportunities to apply the KVP test for their members’ benefit.
Employers and unions must work together when an employee with family obligations requests accommodation. In a recent case called Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, the Federal Court of Appeal gave us a clear set of rules to decide when employees have a right to that accommodation and just how far employers and unions must go. Another recent case, Canadian National Railway v. Seeley, addressed accommodation on the grounds of family status in the unionized context.
Three new statutorily protected leaves of absence to protect job security for employees who need to be absent to deal with illness in the family or due to child death or disappearance have been added to the Employment Standards Act. These new leave protections are effective October 29, 2014.
On Thursday April 24, 2014, Senator Bob Runciman announced that he will soon introduce a bill in the Senate that, if passed, will amend the Criminal Code to make the assault of on-duty transit operators an aggravating factor in sentencing. The details of the bill have yet to be released. It appears however, that the bill will seek to implement a comprehensive requirement in order to deter assaults against drivers.